Resource allocation under uncertain demand in Distribution Centres.

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Mathematics and Statistics


Mail and parcel delivery companies have thousands of letters and parcels arriving at distribution centres each hour, each needing to pass through multiple different work areas to be sorted by their destination and size (letter vs parcel). In many work areas, items are sorted by hand, requiring the company to roster workers in the mail centres to sort these letters and parcels.
There are two considerations here. Firstly, the delivery company is required to sort the post within given timelines (e.g. certain proportions of different items need to be sorted on time). Rostering on more staff means that the letters and parcels will be sorted quicker. However, more staff members lead to higher operating costs for the company. Therefore a balance needs to be found.
If this were the whole problem, this could be solved with a number of existing methods. However, there is another complication. The staff rosters need to be determined before the number of letters and parcels incoming during a shift is known.
My PhD will involve developing and extending methods to determine optimal staffing levels in a mail centre. While initially applied to the parcel sorting problem, some of the techniques we will develop may apply more generally to the area of decision making under uncertainty, and the wider field of Operational Research.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022252/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2284969 Studentship EP/S022252/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Hamish Thorburn